Welcoming back Del Val students


Jack Hancsin

Del Val reopened its doors to its students for in-person learning on September 1, 2021.

Rebecca Matthews, Editor-in-Chief

Unlike with last year’s hybrid schedule, Del Val students are now all back in the building.

With the Coronavirus still lingering, Del Val is keeping a mask mandate for students’ safety.

Many of last year’s safety protocols remain in place this year.

“I don’t think anything is fool proof, but I think within the parameters we’ve gotten from the health department, from the state, and our school nurse, we’re trying to embed as many precautions as we can,” Principal Olcott said.

Due to new variants of the virus spreading rapidly, there is much uncertainty and confusion with how to stay extremely cautious. From contact tracing and quarantining to mask wearing, the school is doing a great job with reporting the cases and keeping people safe.

The school’s nurse, Beth Hendershot, has been keeping track of who goes in the nurse’s office with what symptoms, and when to send a student home. Mrs. Olcott is also very thankful for the school’s purchase of the disinfecting sprayers.

The reopening plan was designed by a team of district stakeholders. As a group, the goal was to address the key concepts and tackle the obstacles of the pandemic.

“This year’s plan is simpler and addresses health and safety guidelines,” Superintendent Daria Wasserbach said.

The state’s executive orders, the mask mandate and the vaccine mandate, are also in place.

“This requirement [the mask mandate] was mandated by the State of NJ, and we are required to comply,” Wasserbach said.

The main idea of the reopening plan was to stay as normal as possible. If you would like to read more about the reopening plan, check out the articles found on the school website.

Photograph via Joseph Flynn
These mask mandate signs are posted all across the hallway.

With the senior class of 2022 being the only one to experience a normal year at Del Val, the staff really wanted to make this year was normal as possible. Unexpectedly going back to state mask mandates, Del Val is still able to hold a lot of the normal activities.

For instance, the sophomore class of 2024 got to have its Field Day. Juniors and freshman got to bond as classes through a variety of activities, and the seniors helped out the younger grades. From football games to the Homecoming dance, Mrs. Olcott is doing everything in her power to have fun while still staying safe.

Each parent seems to have much different views on staying open. Even though they seem to be happy that their children are finally out of the house, some parents have a lot more cons about the reopening plan.

The main concern is mask wearing. By law, masks are still required in schools. A lot of adults, however, have expressed their concerns over why masks shouldn’t be worn.

The Del Val cafeteria has a new look for this school year.

During Unit Lunch, Mrs. Olcott reminds students to stay safe. As the weather cools, it is perfect weather for the seniors to sit outside. Taking place of last years “Extra Help Wednesday,” Unit Lunch is now the perfect time to go to see teachers. When students approach the lunch line or are finished eating, they must continue to weak their masks.

During school, the students are behaving very well. From wearing a mask at all times to staying safe outside of the classroom, the students seem to be doing very well at adapting to a new school year.

“I always think the kids are the best part of this school,” Olcott said.

I always think the kids are the best part of this school!”

— Mrs. Olcott

For those wondering, the idea of having a DLD (Distance Learning Day) can reappear in the future.

“Because the Del Val school year exceeds the statutory requirement of 180 school days, we can use DLDs for the extra three calendar days in any given year,” Wasserbach said.

If Del Val has another shutdown, DLDs can take place of in-person learning. If Governor Murphy orders the schools to close, the goal is to remain open as long as possible with little amounts of contact tracing.

Open Campus Days, on the other hand, have come to a halt until the pandemic clears up. This is due to the fact that if someone contracts COVID-19,  the contact tracing process would be “a nightmare.”

“I feel lucky that we’ve been okay,” Olcott said.